Saturday 21 February 2015


To return to a subject Sue has tackled earlier...

The self-updating 'My blog list' feature on the right hand side of this blog gives me the chance to see what's going on elsewhere. For some reason, I included 'Guardian Media' in the list. (Sorry Sue).

For the past few days the 'Guardian Media' link has been updating itself pretty often - and always with some new story about the perfidious Daily Telegraph, in the wake of Peter Oborne's dramatic resignation from the paper. [Update: Immediately after posting this piece, yet another such Guardian piece appeared].

The Graun is obviously on one of its periodic all-out crusades against a major rival. The intent is clear - as it was with the Graun's tireless campaigning against the Murdoch Empire: To serious damage a rival. 

The BBC, inevitably, hasn't been far behind. (The two often seem to walk together on such occasions.)

Newsnight didn't just help 'break' the story (via the Guardian/BBC's media go-to-guy Steve Hewlett), it also led the following night's edition with its own damning report (from Chris Cook) on the Telegraph's misbehaviour. 

Legal eagle and Radio 4 Law in Action presenter Joshua Rozenberg (aka Mr Melanie Phillips) was then interviewed and told how he'd resigned from the Telegraph after his articles were 'amended' - despite his protestations - to include untrue things that the Telegraph had been pressuring him to include because they chimed in with their core messages (say, about the EU or the European court). And I have to say that I believe Mr Rozenberg completely about that.

The Telegraph published an unapologetic editorial about the Oborne affair. This included some swipes at the BBC and the Guardian:
This newspaper makes no apology for the way in which it has covered the HSBC group and the allegations of wrongdoing by its Swiss subsidiary, allegations that have been so enthusiastically promoted by the BBC, the Guardian and their ideological soulmates in the Labour Party. We have covered this matter as we do all others, according to our editorial judgment and informed by our values. Foremost among those values is a belief in free enterprise and free markets.
We will take no lectures about journalism from the likes of the BBC, the Guardian or the Times. Those media outlets that are this week sniping about our coverage of HSBC were similarly dismissive in 2009 when we began to reveal details of MPs’ expenses claims, a fact that speaks volumes about their judgment and partiality.
There's obviously some truth in this but the Guardian's description of this editorial as "callow" seems fair to me. What the Telegraph did, if Peter Oborne is to be believed, isn't proper journalism. It just isn't. That editorial doesn't even come close to being a proper, convincing rebuttal of those charges.

And, by the way (though none of this seems to concern the Beeb or the Graun very much), the Telegraph has slumped in quality in recent years, and has shed a lot of its best journalists (who weren't quite on message), and has closed much of its content for comment, and has become a bit too partisan in its projection of the official Conservative Party agenda to the extent of smearing others (such as UKIP), etc.

That's by the by though. Anyhow...

The Telegraph's attempt to fire back at the Guardian with a piece alleging something similar to the Oborne accusations hasn't taken off, probably because it smacks of desperation. And their attempt to fire back at the Times with a piece claiming - without much evidence - that behaviour there had resulted in suicides among Times journalists has rightly been condemned as absolutely atrocious journalism well beyond the Times, the Guardian and  the BBC (including, on the BBC, by FT and Northern Echo journalists). 

Media outlets fighting each other can get vicious. Very vicious. The Telegraph is coming out firing, but shooting itself in the foot. The Guardian and BBC are lapping it up and attacking the Telegraph on two fronts. The Times doubtless has its own agenda (an overlapping demographic for its readership) and is joining in, and being broadly defended. 

There are agendas everywhere, much as you'd expect from commercial organisations. But from the publicly-funded BBC? Why is their agenda so apparent?


  1. Yep, the Telegraph is the limping gazelle so don't expect the lions not to tear it to shreds. :)

  2. In fact the Telegraph under Black and Amiel was a much more invigorating read.


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